ICAO Lifts Red Flag over Thailand Air Transport

Early this week, Thailand newspapers announced that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has lifted the “red flag” status on Thailand, according to information on its website. In June 2014, the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization issued a red flag to Thailand and added it to a list of 12 other nations found deficient in managing their airlines. An ICAO spokesman said at the time that its main concern was more Thailand’s ability to conduct air operator certifications rather than blaming air carriers themselves.

Thailand had feared that a downgrade would hurt its national airline and consequently tourism. Following the red flag by industry.The United Nations’ aviation regulator has removed Thailand from its list of countries red-flagged for safety concerns, more than two years after it was first put on the list.

Chula Sukmanop, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, said he had been alerted to the change on the ICAO website but had yet to confirm it with the UN agency, which reportedly discussed the issue on Friday, according to Daily News Online.

Thai airlines will now be able to new destinations, especially in Japan and South Korea. Both countries had frozen traffic rights for new routes for Thai carriers. Airlines such as NokScoot or Thai AirAsia X had been particularly affected by the ban.

The Thai aviation industry will also gain more international acceptance in terms of safety, and foreign airlines will make more stops and expand services.  The ICAO conducted an audit of the CAAT from Sept 20-27.

Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, said “today is a proud day for Thailand” after he met with ICAO’s Asia and Pacific regional director last Monday. “The fact that ICAO have lifted the red-flag it once issued Thailand shows their trust in us and the international community’s faith in Thailand’s aviation industry,” the prime minister said.

M. Sukmanop declared to Thai newspapers that his office had corrected the flaws raised by the ICAO including amending related laws and regulations and granting Recertification of Air Operator Certificates (Re-AOC) to airlines.

According to Thailand director of the civil aviation, nine out of 21 airlines that operate international flights have been granted Re-AOC and the CAAT plans to complete the process of re-certifying the other 12 airlines by early next year.